May 13, 2021

Outrage as Assam DGP says will book COVID-19 SOP violators for murder

Senior advocates of Gauhati High Court termed the comments of DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta as 'childish, of poor legal knowledge and unfortunate'

Guwahati: The Assam DGP has threatened to file attempt to murder case against violators of COVID-19 protocol but legal experts on Thursday said that it is not possible to lodge a case under Section 307 for such an offence.

Senior advocates of Gauhati High Court termed the comments of DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta as “childish, of poor legal knowledge and unfortunate”, but said the top cop had perhaps said those words to enforce people to follow the restrictions.

The Assam government on Wednesday ordered to shut all offices, religious places and weekly markets for 15 days in urban and semi urban areas from Thursday in order to contain rising COVID-19 cases in cities and towns.

“It is a statement made with poor legal knowledge. It is a childish comment for a man in his position. The attempt to murder has been clearly defined in IPC 307 and his statement cannot be above that,” senior advocate Angshuman Bora told PTI.

Section 307 of the IPC deals with attempt to murder, which is defined as an act committed with intention to murder or knowledge, leading to either death or serious injury. The maximum punishment can be even death sentence under this provision.

Bora said, “The non-compliance of COVID-19 standard operating procedure will be just a violation of the promulgated order, which can be dealt with under Disaster Management Act and Section 188 of the IPC. The procedure to follow these are there in the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

The senior legal expert said that any violation of promulgated orders does not even invite filing of cases, but only registering a complaint in the court.

“Any such case will not sustain in the court,” Bora said on the DGP’s comment.

Section 188 is related to disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant and the maximum punishment under this can go up to imprisonment of six months or fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.

Mahanta releasing a new set of restrictions to control COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday had said, “If someone organises any function secretly at a place and invites people, then it will be considered as betrayal to the society and country.

“We will not file case only under Disaster Management Act, Section 144 or simple IPC, but we will lodge attempt to murder case even if he is a big man,” the DGP had said.

He had also asserted that the police will be very strict and “consider other provisions too” along with slapping of the DM Act if shopkeepers keep selling products from inside or from their back doors after pulling down the shutters in the front.

Gauhati High Court Advocate Rakhee Sirauthia Chowdhury termed the top cop’s comments as “rather unfortunate”.

“Perhaps it was made with an idea of instilling fear into the minds of the general public for ensuring strict and diligent compliance of the SOP,” she added.

Gauhati HC Advocate Bijon Mahajan, who is also a BJP member, said the law of the land is applicable to everyone irrespective of whatever post he holds.

“The sections of penal code can be attributed to a given case provided ingredients of the offences are operative,” he added.

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